Shared Moments with BNE Visionary artist Travis Dewan
Travis Dewan is an artist, arts worker and educator based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
In June 2011 recognizing the need for a sustainable information network for the Brisbane arts and culture scene Travis instigated the visionary web site Brisbane Art, a fine example of an artist-run making waves useful in today’s 24/7 attention economy.
In Travis’s words: BNE ART is an independent digital visual arts guide, an online platform showcasing and archiving events, opportunities, artists, arts writing and art spaces from Brisbane. It is an access point and resource for audiences needing to learn more about Brisbane’s visual arts sector and creative arts culture.
Travis also has a keen interest in Brisbane’s rich and diverse arts and culture heritage and has been a long valued supporter of the development of the ARI Remix project research and development since it began with gusto back in December 2012.
Recently remix.org.au spoke with Travis.
Q: Travis, tell me your most vivid memory of working in the Brisbane arts scene so far ?
TD: I remember the time at the end of art school, where my peers and I seriously considered the state of the emerging arts sector in Brisbane. There were few opportunities for emerging artists to showcase new work outside of the commercial sector – so we each decided to start various artist-run initiatives to actively change the way art was presented in Brisbane.
We were not the first to act upon this circumstance, but there was a sense of a resurgence of ARI activity during 2010 – 2013. This was an exciting time for me, as I took a lot of risks, made a lot of mistakes and also made many great investments into the future of what has now become my arts practice and business.
Q: Tell me a bit about your own arts and culture background?
TD: I am Brisbane-born and raised and graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Visual Art) in 2009. Throughout university I was working part-time for an organization called ‘Art Promotions Queensland’ under the direction of Bernie Hollett. She was a great mentor to me and I was able to gain skills in arts marketing and administration and dealing with high-end commercial artists. I used those skills and transferred them to the arts scene that I was part of at the time and saw the need for more arts infrastructure within the emerging arts.
At the time, there was no engaging activity online for the emerging arts in Brisbane; and from this, I created Vegas Spray – and online based ARI. My focus was to develop an online gallery which collaborated with artists nationally and internationally, while being an archive of current visual art practice in Brisbane. Vegas Spray continually developed its involvement in supporting the visual arts culture in Brisbane and shaped new ways in which the arts were accessed, viewed and shared.
Vegas Spray set up a range of projects over the past six years, such as; Vegas Spray Group Exhibitions, Brisbane Art, Papergirl Brisbane, the Sister City Artist Residency Program and Brisbane Experimental Art Festival.
Q: Tell me about a visual arts project you are working on now, how is it going so far?
TD: I am focusing my arts practice to developing ‘Brisbane Art’ and ‘Brisbane Experimental Art Festival’.
Brisbane Art is an online visual arts guide available via the web and mobile applications. It is a live-archive spanning five years and showcases and documents current events, exhibitions, artist opportunities, artist profiles, local art spaces and arts writing. www.bneart.com
Brisbane Experimental Art Festival is an annual arts event that showcases new experimental arts practice from Brisbane in a one-night arts program. www.beaf.org.au
Q: How, why, when and where did you come up with the concept BNE ART?
TD: BNE ART was born out of a need to archive all the ephemeral events that were taking place in Brisbane and bridge the marketing gap between the commercial and emerging arts sector. I started to archive exhibitions, artist opportunities and artist profiles in 2010 on Vegas Spray, but soon realized I needed a separate platform to support the growing demand for an accessible digital visual arts guide. Five years on, the website has continually grown in scope and reach and has recently produced two mobile apps to support the arts marketing within Brisbane.
Q: Tell me about an ordinary day in the life of BNE ART?
TD: BNE ART receives emails and social media invites to showcase and archive information on the platform. I manage the visual arts guide and have created a system to source and publish information as up-to-date as possible. Because of the online nature of the project, I am able to update the BNE ART platform with ease from anywhere where I can access a computer and the internet. In 2014, I lived for a year in a remote country called Bhutan and was still able to manage the website from there….many people still thought I was based in Brisbane during that time.
Q: Is BNE ART largely a passion project for you?
TD: I am passionate about the development of Brisbane’s arts sector and I feel that BNE ART significantly supports audience development for the visual arts in Brisbane. I am passionate about continually developing the platform to be more accessible and functional.
Q: Travis did you manage to get along to the recent Ephemeral Traces: Brisbane Artist-Run Scene in the 1980s exhibition r at the University of Queensland Art Museum curated by artist and writer Peter Anderson and if so what did you like – or indeed not like – about this 1980s artist-run survey exhibition?
TD: Yes, I attended the opening night. It was great to see how my vision, passion and projects fit into the context of the ARI history in Brisbane and it gave me a great inspiration to continue the tradition started by artists and arts workers before me.
Q: What do you feel is the future for artist-runs, are you hopeful?
TD: There are many artist-run initiatives that have practiced over the past five years, and in 2016 alone, there have been a surprising number of young ARI’s pop up supporting the emerging arts sector. Within this climate, I am hopeful for a thriving ARI scene that continues to push boundaries of showcasing art in new spaces while creating a critical discourse around emerging arts practice in Brisbane.
Q: What is your vision for BNE ART?
TD: My vision for BNE ART is to have the mobile application on as many smart phones and devices as possible and to increase my marketing reach over the next five years to grow the user audience.
Read more about BNE ART here:
Read more about artist and BNEART Director Travis Dewan here: